Monday, December 03, 2007

Effort to Limit Junk Food in Schools Faces Hurdles - New York Times

Effort to Limit Junk Food in Schools Faces Hurdles - New York Times

Federal lawmakers are considering the broadest effort ever to limit what children eat: a national ban on selling candy, sugary soda and salty, fatty food in school snack bars, vending machines and à la carte cafeteria lines.

Whether the measure, an amendment to the farm bill, can survive the convoluted politics that have bogged down that legislation in the Senate is one issue. Whether it can survive the battle among factions in the fight to improve school food is another.

Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, has twice introduced bills to deal with foods other than the standard school lunch, which is regulated by Department of Agriculture.

Several lawmakers and advocates for changes in school food believe that an amendment to the $286 billion farm bill is the best chance to get control of the mountain of high-calorie snacks and sodas available to schoolchildren. Even if the farm bill does not pass, Mr. Harkin and Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, a sponsor of the amendment, vow to keep reintroducing it in other forms until it sticks.

They are optimistic about their chances because there is more public interest than ever in improving school food and because leaders in the food and beverage industry have had a hand in creating the new standards.

But that intense corporate involvement, along with exemptions that would allow sales of chocolate milk, sports drinks and diet soda, has caused a rift among food activists who usually find themselves on the same side of school food battles.

No comments: